Sebastian Strasser,

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Director Sebastian Strasser, born to German-actor parents in Romania 36 years ago, grew up in a house where Stanislavsky was discussed frequently, and made his stage debut at six. Though he abandoned his acting ambition for directing (with a brief journalism stint in between) his history explains the informed casting and the rich performances on his commercials reel. "I see acting as an art, like painting or writing," Strasser says. "I think that in a good play you can't tell where the screenplay writing ends and where the acting begins. I can waste nights when I'm working on something-even a 30-second ad-thinking about a character or a scene. I'm really focused on that; I'm not staying up thinking about the angle to shoot a new Mercedes." However, some of Strasser's best work is for automobiles, including the Volkswagen spot "Kinder." Toting the merits of smooth gear changes, the spot shows two boys on a stoop, pretending to race their cars. One frustrated boy can't seem to get in gear and gives up, while the other zooms ahead until he turns outrageously purple. Purposely casting polar opposites-a blond, focused "very German," child, according to the director, and a dark-haired, distracted fidget. The latter turned out to be incredibly unmanageable, so for the single scene he had separate shoots for each boy. On that with the wily kid, he sat next to the boy and coaxed him through the performance, later removing himself in post and inserting the blond. A self-described outsider who calls himself German when in Romania and Romanian when in Germany, Strasser is a quick thinker and problem-solver on set. "In everyday life I can be rude," he says self-deprecatingly, "but I try to be sensitive to the actors. Sometimes you have to argue to get a reaction from someone, but it has to do with the real. You will always find a way to create a real moment." Newly signed by for representation in the U.S. and most of Europe, Strasser has already shot for Euro clients such as Hypo Vereinsbank, Coca-Cola and eBay and also just completed a short about a strange boy in what he describes as an "un-sexy perfect" neighborhood. "I want more of it, " he says of shooting. "I'm addicted. I'm just like a football player who played in a regional league, and I've been given a chance in the NFL."
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